PLOT: 3/5 CHARACTERS: 2.5/5 WRITING STYLE: 2.5/5 CLIMAX:3/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 2.5/5
“This is Afghanistan. Many tried to conquer it – Alexander the Great, Changes Khan, The British, The Russians, and now you, the Americans. But they were all defeated. We have a saying in our country that only God can save you from the venom of a cobra, teeth of a tiger, and the vengeance of an Afghan.”– Anuj Tikku, Airport Kabul
Weeks after weeks of seeing the gruesome news pouring out of the now Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, I was quite surprised to see a book that spoke about all the recent events that made it to the news. Not knowing what to expect, and without any preconceived notions, I sat down to read Anuj Tikku’s latest book Airport Kabul.
Read on to know more about the book and about my experience of reading it.
What to expect?
Expect a short read that is just under 80 pages. Expect a book that talks of all the recent events that occurred after the Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan in August. Expect a book that is both tragic and emotional.
Who can read?
The book is written in a simple language and effortless manner. As such, it can be picked by any level of readers including beginners.
The story as it goes
Hasija, an Afghan woman who works for the American forces, lives in Kabul along with her husband Jamal, sister Rabia, and cook Hamid. Their humble yet perfect lives are destroyed when the Taliban gains control over Afghanistan and its capital Kabul after the US forces start to leave the country.
As they plan to flee the country of their birth, two suicide bombers are onto them. Deployed by the Taliban to kill and punish the Afghans who helped the US government, Hasija’s family inadvertently becomes a target.
Will they be able to flee the country that has suddenly been plunged into mayhem?
Will the bombers kill them before they get a chance to escape?
What will become of Hasija’s family?
What did I like?
I appreciate how the book manages to narrate a full-fledged story in just under 80 pages. Also, reading Airport Kabul felt like a mini brush with history. The book gives the reader a beginner-level understanding of the recent events and the decades of history behind them. In that sense, it covers the socio-cultural-political landscape of the country well, giving the reader a decent understanding of things as they are.
What could have been better?
The characters are all insipid. There is no character build-up, and there is not an iota of mystery in the narration. The storytelling seems bland and moves ahead in a very linear and monotonous way. It’s a book that reads like a dull essay than an engrossing story.
What I did not like?
As is the case with most books by Anuj Tikku, Airport Kabul too comes with its fair share of editing, grammatical, and unfortunately many spelling mistakes. Needless to state, this drastically reduces the reading pleasure and takes away a lot of value from the book.
Is the climax good?
The climax is bittersweet. Not meaning to give away spoilers, I would only state that it brings the story to a decent conclusion and leaves us with mixed emotions.
While on one hand, the reader wonders about the things that are fundamentally wrong with the world that we live in. On the other, the reader also has, to some extent, her faith restored in humanity.
Is the book entertaining?
For me, a book is entertaining, if there is some reason to keep turning those pages one after the other. There has to be a pull either from the plot, or the characters, or the mysteries undertones, or any other thing, for that matter. But there should be enough motive for me to do so. Sadly, in Airport Kabul that doesn’t happen.
When it comes to entertainment, the book is mediocre at best. As a reader, I was neither interested in any of the characters nor the story as a whole.
In the end
In the end, Airport Kabul is a contemporary drama inspired by the recent socio-political events in Afghanistan. It is a tragic short story that speaks of love and hope as much as it speaks of the monstrosities that humanity is capable of. It is a decent one-time read with a lot of scope for improvement, both in language as well as narration.
Pick the book if
- You are looking for a short read.
- You are looking for a story written around the recent events in Afghanistan.
Skip the book if
- You are looking for a 5-star entertainer.
- You cannot stand editing mistakes.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Airport Kabul using the link below.